The Furies is a collective of three women artists who came together to make art in response to the 2016 presidential election. We named ourselves after the Greek female deities of vengeance and justice who vanquish their foes without mercy. We take inspiration from these goddesses of sacred anger because we believe that outrage is an essential element of our power to effect change.
Patti Levey has been photographing herself for over 30 years. Her work has been exhibited widely in New York, San Francisco, Santa Fe, and Tokyo. She holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence and an M.A. in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University. While studying at Vancouver’s Phototherapy Institute, she authored a master’s thesis about using self-portrait photography as a form of therapy with women.
Author of Photography: New Mexico, Kristin Barendsen has written extensively about fine art for The Prague Post and Santa Fe’s THE magazine. Her photographs have appeared in Yoga Journal, The Dallas Morning News, The Denver Post, and other venues. Winner of the Academy of American Poets Prize, she holds a B.A. from Stanford in creative writing and studio art.
Lauren Ayer is a fiber artist and writer whose work focuses on themes of empowerment, liberation, compassion, and healing. Her art quilts have been exhibited in Santa Fe since 2012, and her writing has been published in Gargoyle Magazine, Adobe Walls, and online. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from UCLA and an M.A. in Medieval and Celtic Studies from San Francisco State University.
On Election Night 2016, friends gathered to watch the returns and beat our Trump piñata in victory. Instead, we ended up smashing it in bewilderment and rage. Seeing its remains, we felt we were looking at the future of women’s bodies, brown bodies, and queer bodies—as well as the body of Mother Earth—under the Trump administration.
As women, our bodies have been a battleground for sexual assault and self-hate. Two of us are queer; one is Jewish. All three of us feel extra vulnerable under this aggressive and violent administration, and we feel a strong imperative to fight back through art. Vowing that our voices will not be marginalized, our collective was galvanized. We became The Furies.
We began making a series of images that evoke a piñata party, a lynching, a crime scene, a beauty pageant, a rape. We photographed each of us in re-enactments of the piñata smashing, in scenes representing Election Night and the aftermath. Together we are fighting, resisting, not yet winning. Infuriated is the body of work that sprang from this spontaneous, organic process.
Women’s bodies have been—and will be now more than ever—an arena where white male politicians play out their power games. Our pussy-grabbing president is proud to objectify women. By photographing ourselves nude, we take control of that objectification and regain agency over our bodies. We see our work as a kind of self-portrait of the way many women feel at this historic moment: threatened, but rising.